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Her Majesty's Theatre

Charles John Phipps

alias Queen's Theatre, Italian Opera House, King's Theatre
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)9.4.1705 | 1st theatre opened
The first theatre was built to the design by Sir John Vanbrugh. Opened with The Loves of Ergasto, an opera by Giacomo Greber. Preceded by an occasional prologue spoken by Mrs Bracegirdle.
(detail)1778 | Alteration
Interior altered to the design by Robert Adam.
(detail)1782 | Alteration
Altered to the design by Michael Novosielski.
(detail)17.6.1789 | conflagration
The theatre burnt down.
(detail)26.3.1791 | 2nd theatre opening
Erected to the design by Michael Novosielski. The foundation stone was laid by the Earl of Buckingham on 3 April 1790. Opened with an Entertainment of Singing and Dancing.
(detail)1818 | Alteration
The new façade was built by John Nash & George Repton with a colonnade of the Roman Doric order on three sides; the fourth side was occupied by an arcade, which remains to this day and the auditorium was remodelled.
(detail)6.12.1867 | Fire

"The building was burnt down in less than an hour. The fire broke out at eleven o'clock at night, and it seems that the alarm was rather slow in communicating with the headquarters of the brigade, then located in Watling Street. It was said that the alarm was not given until twenty minutes past eleven, by which time the flames had attacked the roof. By midnight the scene had become one of fearful grandeur, when the roof collapsed amid a shower of sparks and fragments which fell like so much hail in front of the clubs in Pall Mall. Several houses round the theatre were gutted, principally the shops in the adjoining Opera Arcade. " IN: Mander, Raymond a Mitcheson, Joe. The theatres of London.London, 1963 p. 106- 107

(detail)28.4.1877 | 3rd theatre opening
Built as Her Majesty's Theatre in 1868 and 1869 within existing shell after fire. Opened with Norma by Bellini.
(detail)1892 | demolition

(detail)28.4.1897 | 4th theatre opening
Entirely new structure was erected to the design by C. J. Phipps. Opened with Seats of the Mighty, a play by Gilbert Parker, preceded by an Inaugural Address delivered by Mrs Tree.


John Johnston |architect
(detail)John Vanbrugh |architect

English dramatist and architect, in which latter capacity he was responsible for the design of the first Queen's Theatre on the site of the present Her Majesty's. This was built to house a company led by Betterton, who appeared there in Vanbrugh's own play, The Confederacy (1705), based on Dancourt's Les Bourgeoises a la mode (1692) and often billed as The City Wives' Confederacy. But Vanbrugh's best plays are undoubtedly The Relapse; or, Virtue in Danger (1696), a sequel to and parody of Love's Last Shift (also 1696), by Cibber , and The Provoked Wife (1697).


IN: Hartnoll, Phyllis, ed. The concise Oxford companion to the theatre. 1st ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1972.   ISBN 0-19-281102-9. p. 570

William Henry Romaine-Walker |interior designer


A contemporary description states:

"On the ground floor, level with the street, will be found Orchestral Stalls, Pit Stalls and the Pit. The first floor will be devoted to the Dress Circle and Family Circle. The second tier consists of the Upper Circle, Amphitheatre and the Gallery behind. The five doorways in the centre of the Haymarket fa9ade under-neath the loggia open into a vestibule exclusively for the use of the two classes of the Stalls and the Dress and Family Circles, and the Stalls have a third way out, level with the pavement in Charles Street. . . . The style adopted for the auditorium of the theatre is Louis XIV. There are private boxes on each of the tiers adjoining the proscenium and separated from it and other parts of the auditorium by marble columns. The hangings are of cerise-coloured embroidered silk and the walls generally are covered with a paper of the same tone. The seating for Stalls, Dress and Family Circles is in arm chairs, covered with velvet the same colour as the curtains. The Tableau curtains are of velvet of a similar tone behind which is the Act Drop of tapestry copied from one of the Gobelin Tapestries now in Paris. The whole of the theatre and annexes are lighted by the Electric Light taken from three centres, so that should any one centre fail, the other systems are always available. Hanging from the ceiling is a cut glass and brass electrolier and brackets of Louis XIV style are fixed round the box fronts and on the side walls. "


In:   Mander, Raymond and Mitcheson, Joe. The theatres of London. London, 1963 p. 107 - 108




Authors: Raymond Mander, Joe Mitcheson

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